Friday, October 31, 2014

Is It Rights Or Just Class?

In all the controversy of late about the Ebola virus and how best to contain/treat/eliminate it from U.S. soil one recent story had me scratching my head. This is the story of the nurse Kaci Hickox of Maine.

First let me say that I am not a doctor. Never have been; never will be. So what I know about Ebola is very little and only that which I've heard from or seen in the media. I know that it is contagious. I know hat it has a minimum incubation period of 21 days. I know that it has a 70% mortality rate. I know that it presents like the flu and is easily misdiagnosed by the victim and physicians early on. I also know that there seems to be developing questions on just how contagious it is, how it's transmitted exactly, and just when someone is contagious. Again, I'm not a doctor. What I get from all of this is that Ebola is mean shit and people who have been exposed need to be ABSOLUTELY sure that they are not carriers of the virus or contagious before mixing with the unsuspecting populous.

Second, Kaci Hickox needs to be given the credit she is due as a care giver. She didn't shy away from the fight, she went right into the fire with the goal of easing the suffering of those poor souls who had Ebola. Good for her. And when her tour was done, she came home. And when she arrived from a west African country put on the watch list, she was placed in quarantine in New Jersey and then sent home to wait out the rest of her 21 days in her home in Maine. To remain in her home until she is ABSOLUTELY sure she does not have the virus. She said "no" and thus all the controversy about rights and such.

I don't want to talk about Ebola per se except how it relates to this particular conundrum. My question is about rights and social decorum. I get that Ms. Hickox has rights and cannot be incarcerated without reason. I'm the first person to stand up for a person's rights whether or not I like what they stand for. I get that she doesn't want to be quarantined. But....

Let's see, I cannot tell a joke that starts a rabbi, an imam, a priest and a minister go into a bar on a Friday night during Lent to get a sausage pizza and a pitcher of beer for dinner. I can't (even though it's a really good joke) because there are a number of groups who MIGHT be offended by the joke. So, because groups might be offended, my First Amendment right to freedom of speech has been PERMANENTLY suspended and that joke could classify me as a hate-speech user rather than someone who lacks social decorum and class.

On the other hand. Ms. Hickox (or anyone else who might be carriers or contagious with Ebola) doesn't want her right to freedom to be TEMPORARILY suspended even though what she MIGHT have could infect and possibly cause someone to die.

Hardly equal. Hmm. Permanently suspending a freedom because people could be insulted vs. temporarily suspending a freedom because people could die. Really? And I had the bad joke?

What we have is not really a case of rights - rights of the disease carriers vs. the rights of the unsick, and I'll also argue the whole hate-speech is crap too. What we have is a society so socially déclassé and selfish it's absurd. Why can't it be the case that I don't tell my joke (even though I really want to) because I can self-govern, self-censor, show some class and dignity and respect for others? And why can't Ms. Hickox (and others) self-quarantine, show some class and dignity and respect for others?

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